Did @BorisJohnson give himself a ladder to climb down when responding to @hilarybennmp's question if he believes the EU is acting in bad faith?

Johnson replies: "It is always possible that I am mistaken [that the EU is acting in bad faith].
2/ "Perhaps they will prove my suspicions wrong, and perhaps they will agree in the Joint Committee to withdraw some of the extreme suggestions that I've heard and all will be well.
3/ "But until such time I prefer to have protections guarantee the integrity of this country and protect against the potential rupture of the United Kingdom..."
4/ Note that the Working Paper circulated by the European Commission to member states today (see earlier thread) states: "Michel Barnier clearly stated that the EU is *not* refusing to list the UK as a third country for
food imports."
5/ The Commission and Member states have believed the hold up over the "listing of the UK" for food imports provided Johnson with what was described as an "insane" smokescreen to retroactively justify the Internal Market Bill, which breaches the Protocol
6/ If the Commission spells out in the Joint Committee that it is not threatening, a food blockade of NI, and never has, will that permit a de-escalation?
7/ The Joint Committee was due to meet on September 25, although there is a belief that will have to be postponed until the EU's deadline for the offending elements of the Internal Mkt Bill be withdrawn (ie, end of September)

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More from @tconnellyRTE

16 Sep
Breaking: @MichelBarnier has told EU ambassadors that legal action against the UK remains on the table, but will be used only at the "appropriate time"
2/ During a briefing this morning it's understood EU ambassadors registered "cold fury" at Boris Johnson's move to overwrite the NI Protocol. However the message was to continue with the trade negotiations, and to separate the work of the Joint Committee (on the WA) + trade talks
3/ However, member states told Barnier that strong vigilance was needed on governance - ie, dispute resolution - for both the WA and the future relationship.
Read 19 tweets
13 Sep
A propos of the integrity of the UK and the NI Protocol. This is the very first Article of the Protocol, which is legally binding on both sides:
This Protocol is without prejudice to the provisions of the 1998 Agreement in respect of the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the principle of consent, which provides that any change in that status can only be made with the consent of a majority of its people.
2. This Protocol respects the essential State functions and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.
Read 4 tweets
10 Sep
Here is a thread on the legal advice the European Commission has circulated to member states following the publication of the Internal Market Bill:
1/ The advice says the UK’s attempt to override elements of the NI Protocol are a “clear breach” of the Withdrawal Agreement and would allow the European Commission to take legal action on several grounds.
2/ The advice says the Withdrawal Agreement was ratified by both the EU and UK and entered into force on 1 February. “Since then, no Party can unilaterally change, clarify, amend, interpret or disapply it anymore."
Read 12 tweets
9 Sep
Here is the state aid section of the Internal Market Bill. It basically says the NI Secretary of State reserves the right to interpret Article 10 of the NI Protocol and to “disapply” it, that he cd bring in rules to the effect that EU state aid law can’t apply in NI or GB...
The bill also says the NI Secretary of State could decide that Article 10 of the Protocol can’t “be interpreted” according to ECJ case law
Or he could introduce a law that means EU state aid rules cannot be binding on the UK because of an interpretation of Article 10.
Read 8 tweets
7 Sep
How does the NI Protocol entangle the UK in the EU's state aid rules? Here's an attempt to explain the issues:
1/ As NI will be a de facto member of the single market, it is subject to EU state aid law. The British government can't subsidise companies there that would give them an unfair advantage over, say, competitors south of the border...
2/ What's more, the European Commission has made it clear that it interprets that provision also applying if the UK govt subsidises a company which has significant subsidiaries in NI. In other words, the effect of state aid in NI via the Protocol would have a reach across to GB
Read 15 tweets
6 Sep
Hard to know what to make of @pmdfoster story on the Internal Market Bill and the NI Protocol, except to say that Peter has been unfailingly accurate and painstakingly diligent in his long reporting on Brexit.
2/ The immediate response from my Irish sources are as follows: "not good" and that it is "clearly part of an overall stepping up of the noise by the UK", but that Michel Barnier's Task Force would want the UK to clarify things this week
3/ I won't indulge in the rampant speculation about UK tactics on the NI Protocol and whether the Internal Market Bill threat is designed to force the EU into some Spaghetti Western finale involving the WA, state aid and the kitchen sink...
Read 16 tweets

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